Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) photo by Larry Jordan
Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) were once common throughout the west and especially in the California Central Valley. However their populations declined drastically as a result of unregulated hunting and habitat loss during settlement of the region.
In California, the breeding population was reduced to fewer than five pairs by the 1940s. Fortunately, all populations of Sandhill Cranes have increased, and in 2000 an estimated 465 pairs were breeding in California. Nonetheless, much of their historic range remains vacant and the population remains far below historic numbers1.
The Burrowing Owl came in second :-( It’s OK. I love Sandhill Cranes, they are so prehistoric! Maybe next year the Burrowing Owl will make it to the top? Read the full story here.
Reference: 1Audubon California